Photography and Video to the Extreme

In the past, the most common choice was to either buy (or build) a waterproof camera housing (essentially, a plastic box or bag) or buy a very expensive underwater camera. Airtight/waterproof cases are still an option for many photographer, especially those wanting to use high-end SLRs and videocameras.

However, there are now speciality waterproof digital cameras start in the price range of 19.99, ranging up to around 300$ for higher quality cameras, which shoot both still images and video. These cameras are designed to go where you go with no worries -- on the beach, down the waterslide, in the water, fishing, wherever there is water. Some are also designed to be freezeproof and frostproof (skiing, snowboarding, skydiving), shockproof (kidproof for sure!), and even more.

The latest consumer level waterproof cameras offer amazing quality, ease of use, and most importantly, are very inexpensive. In the waterproof camera category, there are really 3 basic types: tiny sub-compact cameras used by surfers, kiteboarders, and others; multiuse waterproof cameras, which are compact but are more the size of a traditional digital camera, and lastly, professional scuba and underwater photography cameras .

Jamie Sterling and his GoPro Surf HERO getting shacked at Pipe - Winter '08/09 from GoPro on Vimeo. The most common of the sub-compact waterproof cameras are probably the surfpro or the gopro digital camera. Both of these offer a popup/manual viewfinder with a fixed focus. What you see (or don't see depending on how you hold the camera) is what you shoot. These cameras come with a few different mounting options and really are meant to be mounted onto an object (or person). GoPro and SurfPros are under $150. Still images can be shot individually, but these are primarily video cameras. My experience with the GoPro camera is that capturing the image can be a little bit challenging and the quality of images is not as good as this professionally edited (and probably cleaned up digitally) video.

A little more advanced and a tiny bit larger are the multipurpose waterproof cameras. The two most common multipurpose waterproof cameras are the Pentax Optio and the Olympus Stylus 1050Sw and 1030SW.

The Pentax Optio W60 shoots 10M, has a 5X internal optical zoom (the lens is enclosed in the body of the camera), a 2.5 inch LCD screen with anti-Reflective coating (viewable in fairly bright sunlight), Waterproof to 13 Feet, Coldproof to subzero temperature, and
HD movie capture in wide-screen 720p at 15 FPS. Additional features include Advanced Face Recognition (up to 32 faces), Smile Capture and Blink Detection and shake reduction.

Olympus Stylys 1050SW shoots 10M, has a 3X optical zoom (the lens is enclosed in the body of the camera), a 2.7 inch LCD screen with anti-glare technology, Waterproof to 10 Feet, Coldproof to 14 degrees F and shockproof to 5 Feet. Additional features include Advanced Face Recognition (up to 16 faces), tap recognition. The Olympus Stylus 1030SW is a little more advanced with waterproofing to 30Feet and Shockproofing to 6.6 Feet.

I bought the pentax because it shoots in HD quality and it is more cold resistant than the Olympus. I am less likely to drop it on a hard surface (and I bought a silcone skin for it anyhow), so shockproofing is not as important as some of the other features. Here are 2 movies made with my pentax optio, both are shot by my niece. I edited the clips together and added music, but overall, there is NO editing for quality (and Youtube displays a lower quality, too). The camera moves from underwater to above water with ease, even capturing underwater sound.

Mermaid Adventures Adventures -- Tori swimming underwater -- she shot herself swimming, so this is all handheld and selfportraiture. from my youtube site


The older model before W60: